by Doward Wilson
Welcome to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries: the Garage Sale series, starring Lori Loughlin as Jennifer Shannon. Jennifer and her business partner, Dani (Sarah Strange), own Rags To Riches, a resale shop with an eclectic array of merchandise. They canvas estate and garage sales for finds.
Based on the book Garage Sale Stalker by Suzi Weinert, Hallmark has now made six movies for TV. This was Suzi’s first book and was published when she was 75. Another book followed, Garage Sale Diamonds.
Garage Sale Mystery was the first movie, and it broke viewership records for the Hallmark Movie Channel. Jennifer’s friend is found dead at the foot of a staircase, an apparent accident during a burglary gone wrong. When the burglary suspects don’t pan out for the accident, Jennifer keeps pushing and ends up confronting the real killer.
All That Glitters is the second movie. Jennifer attends her first abandoned storage unit sale and is a successful bidder on a unit. She then witnesses an altercation between the owner of the storage unit business and another man. When the owner goes missing, it is Jennifer’s sharp observational skills that lead to the discovery of his body. Sorting through the storage unit that they bought, Jen and Dani find clues relating to a jewelry store and armored car robbery five years earlier that resulted in two murders with millions in diamonds missing.
The Deadly Room is next in the series, and it involves murder on a live web cam. Jen’s real estate friend is selling a high-priced haunted historical home with a past. When the deal is about to be ruined, the agent spends the night in the haunted room on a live web cam feed. She is found dead the next morning. An update on the locked-room murder classic.
The Wedding Dress is the fourth movie, and it is unique. In a load of boxes she bought for $20.00 at a junk sale, Jen discovers a vintage designer wedding dress. Finding the owner leads to the discovery of a vanished bridegroom and a possible murder from 35 years earlier. Cheryl Ladd guest stars in this one and is a delight to watch.
Guilty Until Proven Innocent is fifth in the series, and it steps up the action—a lot! An estranged friend of Jen’s makes amends, and offers Jen and Dani the entire stock of her shop and storage barn on consignment. Having been abandoned by her fiancé two years earlier, she has moved on and is leaving the area to get married. While checking out the storage barn, Jen discovers a hidden basement area containing antiques and the dead body of her friend’s former fiancé. Working to clear her friend of a murder charge, Jen checks out suspects at the local gym and investigates collectible baseball cards at a sleazy dealer’s store.
The Novel Murders is the newest entry. Jen stumbles into a murder scene while delivering an elderly man’s purchase. That murder leads to two more, each involving scenes from classic mysteries by Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Chasing down clues ranging from nicotine poisoning to book editors, college professors, and rejected writers puts Jen in line to become murder victim number four. This is the most complex of the six movies and is extremely well done.
I am looking forward to the next movie in this series. I enjoy Lori Loughlin as Jen and Sarah Strange as Dani. They balance each other very nicely. Some of the supporting cast members have changed actors over time, but it doesn’t detract from the show’s progression. These are just comfortable, sit down, enjoyable mystery adventures, which is all any cozy mystery reader wants. An interesting note is that the two books from which this movie series sprung are not cozies, but more adventure/thriller reads.
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